Sweeping Changes at Dade High

Dr. Jan Harris shows off a high school crest. Also visible is Board of Ed. Chair Carolyn Bradford.

You can get a sense of the feverish pace of change at Dade schools by following the schedule of county school board meetings. For months now, the Dade Board of Education has been holding "meeting-before-the-meeting" workshops a week before the official, regularly-scheduled board meetings.

Much of the time at these sessions is spent on closed-door personnel discussions as Superintendent Jan Harris and the board have made sweeping changes to school leadership (see previous articles). But Monday night's workshop revealed that radical revamps are on the way for the system's brick-and-mortar structure as well.

At Monday night's session, Assistant Superintendent Billy Hooker (right) discussed RFPs--requests for bids--for a hefty renovation of Dade High. The school, which will have a new principal and two new assistant principals come fall, will also have new flooring, ceilings, painting and lighting, to the tune of about $1,993,000.

Last year, said Hooker, he spent the summer praying assiduously that the aggressive HVAC renovations at system schools would be completed in time for class to resume in August. "This year," he told the board, "I'm going to ask that everybody be doing that."

The new flooring at DCHS will include tiling arranged to create a great wolverine head on the floor of the school entrance, said Hooker, the wolverine being, of course, the school symbol and mascot. Dr. Harris also discussed murals on the walls as well as old school photographs, and showed the board a school crest to be displayed in the renovated school.

"It's that sense of community," said Hooker. "It's a sense of pride and a sense of culture."

Dr. Harris said that, having arrived in Dade from outside the system recently, she'd been struck by how well the school had been maintained. "I'm impressed by the way you all have kept the building up to date for the students," she said. "Thanks to the taxpayer."

Hooker discussed bids for the high school renovation as well as for a much-discussed cross-country track at the middle school.

Also on the April 10 agenda was approval for extending the volleyball program to Dade Middle School, with Kaitlyn Rhoden and Bill Tillman as coach and assistant coach, so that the two could begin conducting tryouts.

High school heroes ​Zach Hibbs and Mason Roberts, who were too busy at a soccer match to be honored at last month's meeting, showed up to give the board a second crack. So did the emergency medical technicians who arrived to take over after the two DCHS students gave CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to a hiker who had collapsed at Cloudland Canyon, almost certainly saving his life. And so did Verenice Hawkins (left), the retired public health nurse who succeeded in having CPR taught at the high school after literally decades of agitation.

But that didn't happen until around 7 p.m., the board being in executive session previous to announcing the hiring of a new DMS principal and the two aforementioned DCHS assistant principals, and The Planet had had to move on to the Trenton City Commission meeting which took place the same night. Thus The Planet must settle for the above photograph of the two youthful heroes with their principal, Josh Ingle, provided by the school system, and displayed in The Planet last month.

The official April school board meeting is at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 17, at the board office in front of Dade High on 136 East.

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